#13: 2012-13 Hoops
Why I like it: There are many reasons. The biggest, of course, is that it's the one that got me back in. The fact that it includes coaches. The fact that it's (mostly) sorted by team. The fact that it was the first card for so many of the players who now make up the NBA in my collection. The color coding to each team.
Set size/completion: 301 cards, I have 281 of them, 93.4% completion according to the Trading Card Database.
This one requires a bit of a backstory...find a comfortable place to sit because this one has a lot of text.
In late 2006, sometime between September, when I got my last box, and Christmas, I was not enjoying collecting NBA cards anymore, or watching the games for that matter. I was unhappy with the cards being produced, and how the game was being played- to me at the time, it seemed like it was less about basketball and more about getting on the SportsCenter highlight reels. I told my family not to buy me any more cards, (then and now, the majority of my new additions come from my mom and brother buying me cards). I hadn't sorted my cards in years, my digital records were gone, (as I detailed a few posts ago) and to make matters worse, I could no longer afford to get a box of every set produced, or more than one, which is what I did pretty much from 1999-00 through 2005-06, although I did miss a few sets in that time frame.
I put my cards away and I at the time thought it was done and over with. I still watched some games but that trailed off too, I think during 2008-09 I watched only two games all season long, including the playoffs. My involvement with basketball was at an all time low. For instance, I knew that a team had moved to Oklahoma and became the Thunder, but I didn't know which team. I would not find that out until I started getting this very set and realized the SuperSonics were missing, actually.
But my love of basketball was too ingrained in me to stay away forever. I say that I was away from the game from 2006-12 but that's not entirely accurate...I was away from NBA cards from 2006-12 but I began watching the games again in 2009-10...but at that point I was only watching the Finals. In 2010-11 I watched most of the playoffs and I enjoyed it immensely. The Dallas Mavericks ran to the Championship and Jason Kidd, the best player on my all-time favorite team (2001-02 Nets) finally got his Championship ring. I still wasn't touching the cards, though.
Then came Lockout #2. The first lockout in the 1998-99 season hurt the world of cards immensely. I don't want to give away too much of the remaining dozen sets, but I will say this is the highest ranked set that was issued after Lockout #1. This time, the lockout helped the game. Even though it was shorter, when it came back for 66 games in the 2011-12 season, the games were fun to watch again. I enjoyed every game I watched, and I began watching the regular season again. (unlike most people I generally prefer the regular season). But I was still not collecting the cards.
Then we went to Lake George, NY, my favorite place in the world, for our formerly annual yearly vacation. (Since I got sick in 2013 we have not returned, but I am hopeful I will be able to make that trip again soon). While there we discovered a new card shop. He had some good rare cards at prices I simply could not pass up...I'm talking an X-fractor for a dime. I still mostly got NASCAR from him, which I never stopped collecting during this time period. Then we visited the local Target there, and in Wilton. They had a couple of older packs marked down to 99 cents. I don't remember how many I got but I remember getting a pack of 2008-09 Upper Deck, and then opening it in the car while my mom did the grocery shopping for our stay, and reading the backs of every one of the cards. It was only my second NBA pack since 2006. This was September 2011. (My mom had gotten me a pack of 2009-10 Panini in 2010) I decided then that I would get the packs discounted at Target but I wouldn't pay full retail price for any.
That lasted for about a month.
2012-13 Hoops was issued earlier than normal- most of the time the sets for the new season start showing up in October, but this one, according to the Database, was issued in August 2012. I know it was on the shelves in Lake George area Targets for our September trip. And not only that, they were 44 card rack packs for, I believe, $2. I couldn't resist that...I got some. Then I got some more.
Then, about 3 weeks after we came home from what would turn out to be our most recent trip to Lake George, I really discover the Trading Card Database. I had found the site in August 2011 and joined then but I only used it for reference until October 2012. It was then that I discovered all the other incredible features, and I set out listing my entire collection on there. I started with the NBA. This was the first time I had really looked through my paper listing in more than 5 years. It brought back so many memories, good memories, in some cases the only good memories I have of certain time periods was my cards.
That was it...I was back full time, and I have been back in the NBA ever since. I may not be able to afford to collect like I once did- having to spend $500 or more a month on medicine cuts way down on any hobby, and in fact caused me to essentially give up one of them- but I get what I can. And I find that I appreciate what I get now more than I did the first time around. Before, I would rush through each new pack as soon as I got it to see what I got, most of the time not even taking the time to read the cards. For instance I did an entire box of 2002-03 Topps Chrome while my mom was getting us fast food. Now, I've got packs I purchased in 2013 that I have not even opened yet. I've got an entire sealed box of Olympic cards that arrived in the mail in February 2014 that I have not opened. I appreciate the cards more now.
I realize now that the unhappiness I was having with the cards, and with the game...it was ME, not the cards or game. I've gotten some of the cards I missed and there is nothing inherently wrong with them. I've seen some of the games from that time repeated as "Hardwood Classics" on NBA TV and again, there is nothing wrong with them at all. It was me. If only I knew then what I knew now. A classic line, I fully understand it's meaning now.
All of the cards I've gotten from this set came from retail. I got a retail box for Christmas 2013 but you don't get many cards in a retail box.
Each team is mostly together. That helped me learn where the players I remembered from my first go-around, and where the players who came into the League in the 2007-12 drafts played for. I had not heard of most of the players until I saw them in this set. Two of my top 5 favorite active players, including Kevin Durant above, as well as Klay Thompson made their first appearance in my collection in this set. The first time I ever even heard Klay Thompson's name was when I got the card of him. (That's pretty rare- now that I'm fully into the game again, only two times has the first time I heard of a player been when I got a card of them, and both were in 2013-14. I'm not trying to brag, but I spend most of every day watching basketball or reading about basketball or doing both at the same time)
The set also includes coaches, which I've always been a big fan of coach cards. Unfortunately, this is the only set in the Panini era to include them. That really frustrates me, but it's not as frustrating as Panini constantly ignoring 150 or more players every single year. This year's Complete- a set that would have been on this list had it not ignored 120 players- almost seems like a victory because it "only" ignores 120 players instead of 150.
This is also the only year that Panini color coded each card to each team. Every year since then the backs of the cards have been black and white. While it makes them easy to scan, I like colorful sets that are matched to team colors.
Here's a card back. Another thing I like about the set is that they included some stats. Most Panini sets include one year, if any at all. Even the flagship Hoops set no longer includes full stats. If they had included actual stats instead of averages would have been better, because averages mean nothing, but it's more than we usually get from Panini so I guess I shouldn't complain.
There are also rare Kobe's All-Rookie Team that is not in my collection, and there were also hobby-only 1989-90 buyback autographs which do not appear in my collection.
At some point I do want to purchase a hobby box and see if I can complete the set.
How did it lead to the birth of Cardboard History? Well, it led to me collecting full time again, and it led me to the Database, which has a blogroll on the main page. I started reading them regularly in mid 2014 and I enjoyed what I read, after reading for several months I decided to make my own and here we are!